South Africa moving to legalize online gaming

The Herald in South Africa reported last week that the South African government is expected to publish legislation regulating online gambling by the end of the year, ending the online gambling ban in the nation.

Currently the trade and industry department in the government is reviewing comments made on a draft amendment bill that will pave the way for legalizing the industry and setting controls on it.

The department's chief director, Fungayi Sibanda, told The Herald that his department plans to submit the bill to Parliament sometime around July.

Roger Meyer, National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP) treatment director, said South Africa is already seeing signs of problems relating to online gambling addiction and anticipates the problem will grow.

Meyers told The Herald he thinks policing online gambling regulations would be impossible and that the government has adopted an "if you can't beat them, join them" attitude.

However, Sibanda said the rationale behind legalizing online gambling is that the government will have some control over the industry to help with these problems.

The bill will include measures to deal with problem gamblers or illicit activities associated with online gambling. Dealing with minors who try to gamble online will also be provided for.

The legislation was put forth in response to the National Gambling Board's advice that there was a need for legalizing and regulating online gambling rather than trying to ban the industry all together.

In the NRGP 2006 annual report, Chris Fismer, National Gambling Board chairperson, had this to say about expanded regulation of the gambling industry:

"While some have expressed understandable misgivings about the expanding reach of government regulation, there can be little doubt that the comprehensiveness of South Africa's gambling regime has secured the country an enviable reputation as one of the world's most ethical, socially responsible and reputable jurisdictions."

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